21st Sunday A
23rd August 2020
St. Colman’s Cathedral, Cobh
“where true gladness is found”
In a time of uncertainty there emerges a great desire among people for clear direction and stability. We are witnessing this right now on all levels of life. It applies to the individual especially. Uncertainty generates anxiety, instability of feeling and confusion. It is not a good place to be in. So, it is no accident that we find a strong emphasis on ‘wellbeing’ – for pupils in schools, employees in the workplace, for the development of good relationships.
All of this natural ongoing reality of living life is put into sharp relief by the Pandemic currently rife among us.
If we leave to one side the economic disruption, the challenges facing healthcare and education, there is a deeply felt rupture that has taken place, in peoples experience of music, song, the visual arts, spirituality and religious practice. What we took for granted by way of artistic and spiritual inspiration and nourishment can no longer be experienced in the same way – that leaves a void.
Where does our gathering for Mass fit into this reality – listen to the opening prayer of Mass this morning
O God, who cause the minds of the faithful to unite in a single purpose,
grant your people to love what you command
and to desire what you promise, that, amid the uncertainties of this world, our hearts may be fixed on that place where true gladness is found.
Amid the uncertainties of this world our hearts may be fixed on that place where true gladness is found. Contrast that with Paul’s exclamation to the Romans
“How rich are the depths of God – how deep his wisdom and knowledge –
and how impossible to penetrate his motives or understand his methods!
Who could ever know the mind of the Lord? Who could ever be his counsellor? Who could ever give him anything or lend him anything?
All that exists comes from him; all is by him and for him. To him be glory for ever! Amen.
Those words of St. Paul seem so clear and definitive so where is the problem? The answer is in the wisdom and knowledge of God.
The difficulty and challenge for all of us is that in changing and uncertain times how do we draw on that wisdom and knowledge that the Lord offers?
The conversation between Peter and Jesus in the Gospel can give us some understanding and insight. “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” And then he pushes him with a more direct question – “Who do you say I am?”
“Who am I for you Peter?”
“You are the Christ the Son of the Living God”. Then Jesus speaks of Peter/Petrus the rock on which he will build his Church.
If we translate or transpose that encounter into our own lives – it will be something like who is Jesus for you in these times and what does the experience of the communion of the people of God / the Church mean for you these days?
In turbulent waters of change we need to check our bearings constantly. This is not always easy but we are not alone in doing so. It is important that we talk about these things among ourselves and in our families. Older people need to talk to their adult children and vice versa. Parents need to talk to their children – not to generate fear rather the opposite – to reassure that though the uncertainty cannot be just blown away, it can be managed.
O God, who cause the minds
of the faithful
to unite in a single purpose,
grant your people to love
what you command
and to desire what you promise,
that, amid the uncertainties
of the world,
our hearts may be fixed on that place
where true gladness is found.
need we ask for?